Changes in, or additions to, the U.S. Constition. Amendments are proposed by 2/3 vote of both houses of Congress, or by a convention called by Congress at the request of 2/3 of the state legislatures and ratified by approval of 3/4 of the states.
Opponents of the American Constitution at the time when the states were contemplating its adoption.
Articles of Confederation
The first constitution of the United States, adobped by Congress in 1777 and enacted in 1781. The Articles established a national legislature, the Continental Congress, but most authority rested with the state legislatures
Bill of Attainder
A law that declares a person , without trial, to be guilty of a crime. The state legislatures and Congress are forbidden to pass such acts by Article I of the Constitution.
Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments to the Constitution, drafted in response to some of the Anti-Federalist concerns. These amendments define such basic liberties as freedom of religion, speech, and press, and guarantee defendants' rights.
Checks and Balances
Features of the Constitution that limit government's power by requiring that power be balanced among the different governmental institutions. These institutions continually constrain one another's activities.
An alliance among different interest groups (factions) or parties to achieve some political goal. An example is the coalition sometimes formed between Republicans and conservative Democrats
The compromise reached at the Constitutional Convention that established two houses of Congress: the House of Representatives, in which representation is based on a state's share of the U.S. population, the Senate, in which each state has two representatives. AKA: The Great Compromise
A nation's basic law. It creates political institutions, assigns or divides powers in government, and often provides certain guarantees to citizens. Can be either written or unwritten.
A meeting of delegates in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation, which produced a totally new constitution still in use today.
Declaration of Independence
The document approved by representatives of the American colonies in 1776 that stated their against grievances the British monarch and declared their independence.
Equal Rights Amendent
A constitutional amendment originally introduced in 1923 and passed by Congress in 1972 and sent to the state legislatures for ratification, stating that "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on acount of sex." Despite substantial public support and an extended deadline, the amendment failed to acquire the necessary support from 3/4 of the state legislatures.
Ex Post Facto Law
Ex post facto is a Latin term meaning, "after the fact." A law that makes criminal an act that was legal when it was committed, that increased the penalty for a crime after it has been committed, or that changes the rules of evidence to make conviction easier; a retroactive criminal law. The state legislatures and Congress are forbidden to pass such laws by Article I of the Constitution.
Interest groups arising from the unequal distribution of property or wealth that James Madison attacked in the Federalist Paper No. 10. Today's parties or interest groups are what Madison had in mind when he warned of the instability in government caused by factions.
A collection of 85 articles written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison under the name "Publius" to defend the Constitution in detail.
Supporters of the U.S. Constitution at the time the states were contemplating its adoption
The power of the courts to determine whether acts of Congress, and by implication the executive, are in accord with Constitution. Judicial review was established by John Marchall and his associates in Marbury v. Madison 1803
The idea that certain restrictions should be placed on government to protect the natural rights of citizens
The power of an executive to veto some provisions in an appropriations bill while approving others. The president does not haveh the right to exercise a line-item veto and must approve or reject an entire appropriations bill.
Marbury v. Madison
The 1803 case in which Chief Justice John Marshall and his associates first asserted the right of the Supreme Court to determine the meaning of the U.S. Constitution. The decision established the Court's power of judicial review over acts of Congress, in this case the Judiciary Acto of 178
Righs inherent in human beings, not dependent on governments, which include life, liberty, and property. The concept of natural rights was central to English philosopher John Locke's theories about government, and was widely accepted among America's Founding Fathers.
New Jersey Plan
The proposal at the Constitutional Convention that called for equal representation of each state in Congress regardless of the state's population.
A form of government in which the people select representatives to govern them and make laws.
Separation of Power
A feature of the Constitution that requires each of the three branches of government -- executive, legislative, and judicial -- to be relatively independent of the others so that one cannot control the others. Power is shared among these three institutions.
A series of attacks on courthouses by a small band of farmers led by Revolutionary War Captain Daniel Shays to block foreclosure proceedings.
The document written in 1787 and ratified in 1788 that sets forth the instutional structure of he U.S. government and tasks these institutions perform. It replaced the Articles of Confederation.
The proposal at the Constitutional Convention that called for representation of each state in Congress in proportion to that state's share of the U.S. population.